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I started learning Polish in the summer of 2017. I heard it was going to be a “challenge”. In fact, that’s all I ever heard, but honestly this was just background noise to me. This fact became important as I delved deeper into learning Polish.
Polish is a “category III” language, meaning it’s grouped with languages such as Albanian, Turkish, Hebrew and Finnish (as well as other Slavic languages) as being a language “with significant linguistic and/or cultural differences from English.” I’m rather glad I somewhat went into learning Polish with an open mind and didn’t listen to all those “it’ll be hard” comments, because I surely wouldn’t be where I am today if I had.
I started essentially from the beginner level, and once I started I just wanted to continuously improve. The thing is, is that I’ve actually never learned another language before. By chance I found the Polish Language School KLUB DIALOGU in Warsaw. That`s how my adventure with Polish has begun.
It was a slow process for a while but after 1.7 years I got to B2 level and now I can understand and speak confidently in many situations. It gives me such a huge amount of satisfaction to know that in cafes, shops, in work and university I am not recognised as a foreigner.
It’s been said in psychological studies that speaking 2 or more languages is a “great asset to the cognitive process” and that brains of bilingual people “operate differently” than mono linguists, which is something that can have several mental benefits.
In general, it’s said that learning a second language can: boost brain power, improve ones first language, improve performance in other academic areas and provide better career choices.
Are these things true? I’d be really interested in your comments as I do have my own opinions from my own experiences!
I do believe that it’s so easy to just go along speaking English especially in big cities in Poland. But there are a lot of benefits to learning the Polish language and if one is lucky enough to be faced with the opportunity, it’s so worthwhile to do so. Many doors are opened. The point really is to learn the language, though, to at least an upper intermediate or advanced level, in order to feel that confidence and be able to fluently communicate.
Boosts brain power: Learning Polish for me has introduced an entire new way of thinking and an intricate system of quite complex rules, pronunciation and grammar. Having to very often switch between languages has been a skill I’ve had to acquire, which really hasn’t been easy (I don’t want this to seem like it’s been a breeze for me. Believe me, there have been times where I thought I just can’t carry on!) However, learning this skill has been a lot of fun as opposed to a burden. It helps me think ‘on my feet’ and think fast.
Improves first language: With this I somewhat agree, because I have learnt a lot about my native language, which is English, since I really had to research and learn some of the grammar structures in my own language to be able to understand why some things are as they are in Polish. On the other hand, actually, once I became more fluent in Polish and had to speak in this language more, I started to (and still do) get mixed up with words and sentence structures in both English and Polish. Sometimes I don’t even know or remember a word in English but in Polish it comes immediately to my mind.
Improves performance in other academic areas: Learning new languages improves cognitive skills; studies have shown that benefits of learning new languages include higher scores on standardised tests, in mathematics, reading comprehension and vocabulary by multilingual compared to monolingual students.
Learning foreign languages, for a lot of people, is testing, but fortunately, in the process it gives a lot satisfaction. People always appreciate it when you speak in their language even if it’s tough and you struggle a lot. Don’t worry, they are super eager to help you.
Don’t break down if at the beginning Polish seems scary and difficult! Step by step, sooner or later everyone is able to grasp it. Find the right school where you feel comfortable but a bit challenged. I found my place in KLUB DIALOGU Polish Language School in Warsaw, but you can find the right place for yourself, or perhaps it will find you 🙂 I wish you the best of luck!